How to Start a House Cleaning Business
Setting Up Your Service
First thing you need to do when starting a cleaning business is to determine what type of service you want to provide to your clients. For instance, you will want to give a general idea of what your service will include. Do you want to do residential only or are you willing to do commercial also? If you take on commercial accounts you won't have the flexiblity in your schedule when it comes to personal time. Who will be able to work those accounts when you are sick or on vacation? Do you want to do vacation homes, move in /move out properties, general cleaning. Are you willing to do windows? If so, "Do you have the equipment for it?" Do you want to work with a crew or do you prefer to work alone? How far are you willing to drive?
Marketing Your Business
Once you determine how far you are willing to drive for your business, you can target that area. Think about retirement communities, gated communities, Real Estate offices, industial and business parks if you are considering doing commercial accounts. Put a simple ad in your local paper and run it for a few issues to see if you get any response. There are also independent papers for gated communities you may want to try using. Craigslist.com is a popular online classified ads website and Care.com is a networking site for finding babysiters, house cleaners, pet sitters and care givers. Both are free services and are used nation wide. If you are computer savy, you can make a small batch of business cards to have on hand. They are always good to pass out when you meet new people and leave with potential clients when you giving them a bid. Flyers are one of the best marketing tools and very low cost should be followed up, replaced and updated regularly. An entire clientel can be built just on flyers which leads to referrals if your job is done well.
Key Words for Advertising
- Commercial / Residential
- General / Deep Cleaning
- Monthy / Bi-weekly / Weekly Scheduling
- Use Organic Products Upon Request
- Pet Sitting
- Plant Care
- Vacation Homes
- Move In / Move Out Ready
- Spring Cleaning
Managing Your Clients
As you start your business, you will want to keep good records of your clients. One way to create a client work sheet with contact information and general information. Here is a list of some information to add to your records:
- Name, address, home phone, cell phone
- Start date
- Product preferences
- Description of home
- What type of cleaning is needed
- How often they are scheduled
- Names of pets or family members
- Any notes that will help you provide them with better service
Gather your information and keep everything in a 3 ring binder or in a computer file. Keep a year of monthly calendars in the front so you can block out all of your regular appointments. As you pick up more clients, you will be able to know exactly what times you are available and fill those slots as your business grows. When that month is complete, move it to the back of the binder so you will have those records for the end of the year tax time. Keep all of your receipts and keep a log of your miles also. It is also nice to have all your advertising together. You never know when and were you may want to put up a flyer.
One nice thing about starting a cleaning service is that you don't necessarily need a lot of money for start up costs. Most of your clients will have you use all of their equipment and supplies. You mainly need to show up with confidence, integrity and a good work ethic. You want to make sure you have a decent vacuum, however, most customers prefer that you use their own. You can tell them it is better to use theirs because it doesn't transfer any household dust from house to house through equipment.
- Buckets (2)
- Cleaning Tote
- Broom and Dustpan
- Swiffer Pro Floor Duster (longer) MUST HAVE
- Swiffer 360 extenstion Duster MUST HAVE
- Microfiber Dust Rag (greater for appliances - gets rid of streaks)
- Scrub Brushes
- Large Sponge
- Squeege for showers
- Squeege for windows
- White Terry Towels (12)
- Small Rags (wash cloths)
- Screwdriver (in case something needs a little tightening)
- Putty Knife
- Razor Blades (to be used wisely)
- Toothbrush for Small areas
- Rubber Gloves
- 3 Step - Stool (optional)
If you want to have a more professional look, you may want to wear scrubs, a polo shirt and kakis, or a solid color apron with pockets. Another must have is an extra pair of slip-on shoes to wear when you start the job. One good option to use is a pair of plastic clogs like Crocs.They are easy to clean, change into, and light weight. They are also great for climbing in and out of those large showers you have to clean. It also sends the message to the customer that you are conscientious about not tracking in dirt or mud.
What type of cleaning products do you prefer to use?
- Mr. Clean Magic Eraser (cuts soap scrum)
- Brillo Pads or SOS Pads (good for cleaning cast iron and chrome oven grates)
- Bar Keepers Friend cleanser and polish (good for surface stains, sink fixtures)
- Simple Green (cuts grease)
- Lysol Cleaner (disinfectant good for door knobs and light switches)
- Murphy's Oil Soap (a tiny bit with water for vinyl, wood or laminent floors)
- Murphy's Wood Cleaner (cleans fronts of cabinetry without harming the finish)
- Sprayway Glass Cleaner
- Toilet Bowl Cleaner (any brand)
- Howards beeswax and orange oil furniture polish
- Bona wood floor products
- Holloway House floor polish (vinyl floor and made in USA)
- Murphy's Oil Soap
- Simple Green
- Mrs. Meyers Products
- Clorox Green Products
When using spray products, it is better to spray the rag rather than the surface. This will reduce fumes and won't create potential damage to the surface. Sometimes a customer may ask if you do windows, carpets, haul away unwanted items, organizing, painting or other household maintenance that is out of your scope of work. It is better not to offer to do any home cleaning or repairs that is not in your expertise. It is a perfect opportunity to refer a familiar professional your know is qualified and trustworthy. Networking with other businesses is a perfect way to build up your clientele and help other professionals build their business as well.
Flexibility and Profitability
When faced with unemployment, starting a house cleaning business is a great alternative. It is so frustrating to see the positions that were being offered in the job market since the change in the economy. Employers want a high number of skill sets that either is the equivalent of a Bachelor's degree or years of experience. In return, they are only willing to pay $10 - $12.00 an hour. When you have a 4 year degree and lots of other marketable skills, it is difficult to go that route unless there are no other options. The going rate for cleaning services in many areas is $20 - 25 per hour. It can be very rewarding to be self employed. There is some flexibily in scheduling, weekends and evenings off and you don't have to sit in commuter traffic unless you are in the big city. You only have to be responsible for yourself and you can get paid every week.